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Apr 7, 2009 3:59 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Questions abound over resort motel

Apr 7, 2009 3:59 PM

The owner of a run-down motel on Route 114 outside Sag Harbor plan to replace it with a more elaborate resort facility, but the East Hampton Town Planning Board has serious reservations about the plan.

The property is owned by 734 Route 114 LLC, which has proposed renaming the Barcelona Inn the Sag Harbor Cottages.

The property now includes one main motel building with second-story addition, four sheds, five one-story motel units, and a garage. Plans call for those buildings to be razed and replaced with 12 cottages, two storage buildings, an office, a pool house, cabana, a pool and two spas. The project also calls for clearing white pine woods on the property, which troubles members of the Planning Board.

Town Planner Eric Schantz, who is handling the application, said that the planning staff has a number of concerns with the project, which the board has seen several times since it was first proposed in the fall of 2007.

He said that transient motels are not allowed to have kitchens. The cottages on the plan include rooms that are labeled as kitchens, though the rooms have only sinks in them, according to the plans. He also said that eight of the 12 units are only 290 square feet, while the town code requires that motel units be between 325 and 450 square feet.

He added that the property is in the only white pine forest on Long Island and is bordered by wetlands that feed into Northwest Creek.

“Either the buildings are going to have to be made larger or there are going to have to be fewer of them,” said Planning Board member Sam Kramer. “The problem I see is that the proposal is to take down pristine woods, white pines, which are unique in the town, unique on Long Island. To me that stands out as the most important issue. Right in that area, there’s a lot of these magnificent trees. They are a very valuable resource.”

Mr. Kramer added that the board has not yet seen a proposed clearing and revegetation plan for the property and that he doesn’t understand why the applicants need a pool house when the motel units are already proposed to be built around the pool.

Planning Board member Eileen Catalano said that she was skeptical of the applicant’s proposal to have only one or two employees on site, given the large number of buildings that will need to be maintained.

Mr. Kramer also said that he didn’t think there was enough parking on the site.

“There are going to be people parking all up and down 114,” he said. “I wouldn’t want it to be thought that I’m against the motel. Eyesore is not a farfetched word [for what’s there now], but if we’re going to replace an eyesore, at what cost?

“This has been a sketchy plan from day one,” said Planning Board member Patrick Schutte. “This is a very sensitive area. This is a dislocation of this area. I think we all agree that this needs to be cleaned up, though.”

Attorney Jon Tarbet, who represents the owner, said that there are no white pines on the property, which he said is predominantly covered with dead pitch pines. He added that the town’s Natural Resources Director, Larry Penny, had told him that the changes to the property “would be a huge improvement.”

Planning Board Chairwoman Sylvia Overby also said that she was concerned about the need for a pool, pavilion and cabana.

“The cabana looks like a bar—what are they going to do with that? I’d like to know what’s going on,” she said.

Members of the Planning Board also questioned why the applicants were proposing a pool when only a shallow pool—perhaps less than 2 feet deep—can be built, due to the fact that the groundwater on the site is only 2 feet below the ground.

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By pmofo (37), East Quogue on Apr 6, 09 6:31 PM
Here we go once again .More and more land needs to be cleared.....trees cut down, larger buildings need to be built...the same old developer's ploy even now despite these recessionary times....Despite the fact that the current owners probably bought the place 30-40 years ago for practically nothing, they still suddenly feel the the need to cash in now.
By pmofo (37), East Quogue on Apr 6, 09 6:42 PM
I go by that place all the time, and while I have never been inside, I don't think it looks 'run down' at all. Its just an older complex.
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Apr 6, 09 6:58 PM
I agree with C Law, the place doesn't look "run down" to me either. It's always kept neat and orderly. They did some landscaping not too long ago and the parking lot looks fine. Here we have someone willing to take a chance and spend some money in these hard economic times. Just think of all the people that will benifit from a project like this. Carpenters, architects, planners, the town boards, landscapers, painters, electricians, plumbers, painters, hvac installers, maids, tourists, families of ...more
By private (27), sag harbor on Apr 7, 09 11:12 PM
Such mixed feelings about this!

1) Not that the answer is reconstruction but let's be honest, that place looks like an eyesore now and it always has.

2) As private mentions above, it would create some jobs. However, are these jobs going to be filled by local, east end carpenters, plumbers, builders and etc.? Or are we just going to be adding to the never ending trade parade that arrives here each morning from all points west.

3) We need to protect the remaining land that ...more
By RealLocal (76), Bridgehampton on Apr 8, 09 10:59 AM
It sounds like another case where the Town Planning Board will flex its muscle and try to drive another entrepreneur away from East Hampton. Its the same story every time someone attempts to build a business. The TPB throws up objections that range from legitimate/legal concerns to irrelevant obstacles.

For instance, Town Planner Schantz says the cottages can't have kitchens and then acknowledges that although the plans say kitchen they are only equipped with a sink. They don't want the ...more
Apr 8, 09 12:40 PM appended by Orangeman
The Town Planning Board has a challenging job for sure- ensuring the beauty of the area we all call home while allowing land and business owners to use their property to its best possible use.
By Orangeman (2), Naples on Apr 8, 09 12:40 PM
I highly doubt that someone's priority for serving on a town planning board is to drive entrepreneurs away from the area. I also think it's pretty insulting to make a generalization that have 'big heads' and don't understand their jobs. Personally, I salute anyone who wants to slow growth in this area. How many more empty storefronts, unoccupied, unsellable, unrentable buildings, homes and businesses do we need out here?

I think asking questions about how a property is going to be used ...more
By RealLocal (76), Bridgehampton on Apr 8, 09 1:02 PM
I am worried. The owner is not a local aspiring hotelier...he is a realtor that came here from Nassau County.

He also owns that big old house on the corners of Rt 114, Lighthouse Lane & Washington Ave. He surrounded the entire property with an ugly fence and keeps piles of junk in the backyard that are visible from the road. It has been like that for a year and now it seems that the renovation has stopped completely.

Rumor has it that he already owns several unrented buildings ...more
By simplesally (1), Sag Harbor on Apr 9, 09 5:31 PM
The applicant has a non conforming structures and a non conforming use on a conforming lot. 255-1-40 of the Town Code allows non conforming uses to continue and allows reconstruction of the structures provided there is no expansion of the gross floor area. So if the motel units have kitchens now, they are allowed to continue to have kitchens if you reconstruct them. The proposed reconstruction will actually make the non-conforming structures conforming with respect to their setbacks. You certainly ...more
By inthesprings (2), The Springs on Apr 13, 09 12:22 PM
My my... to inthesprings... you seem to know way too much about this, your input smacks of either a lawyer or perhaps an unfortunate investor/co-developer...apparently you are someone who is intimately involved with this particular piece of property....Why should should anyone listen to your self serving line of partial truths..Just make sure your client/partner isn't already over extended .....I have a feeling he and his wife are ...........
By pmofo (37), East Quogue on Apr 17, 09 9:36 PM